Madras Lentils

Get ready for a flavor explosion with our Madras Lentils recipe! You’ll be tempted to batch cook this delectable dish, ensuring a week’s worth of satisfying lunches in your freezer.

Madras lentils served on a plate.

Let’s talk about Tasty Bite. Have you ever tried these delectable little packages? My favorite is the Tasty Bite Madras Lentils, which tastes like an Indian, flavor-infused hearty vegetarian chili. Which is obviously right up my alley.

While you really can’t beat one-step-one-minute convenience, you CAN make a huge batch for really cheap in just a few hours at home. Don’t let the time it takes to make this Madras Lentils recipe put you off. Out of the two hours total, only about 20 minutes is active time. There’s lots of simmering action, so feel free to go about your day while your house starts to smell completely amazing.

I decided to use a mixture of adzuki and mung beans because they perfectly replicate the texture of this dish. If you have a hard time finding adzuki beans, use regular small red beans. The adzuki beans are really tasty; you can find them here on Amazon. On the other hand, mung beans are green and very round. When cooked, they retain their shape and toothiness, so they add lots of great texture.

Reasons to Love Madras Lentils

  • Madras Lentils offer a tantalizing blend of spices that awaken taste buds with every bite.
  • It’s a vegetarian delight perfect for vegetarians. Plus, Madras Lentils are also protein-packed and satisfying.
  • A taste of India’s vibrant cuisine in the comfort of your home.
  • Serve them with rice, naan, or as a side, making them a versatile meal for all occasions.

Recipe Ingredients

Ingredients for Madras lentils on a table.
  • Mung Beans: Slightly sweet, they add a pleasant contrast to the savory spices.
  • Adzuki Beans: Earthy and nutty, they provide a hearty base and absorb the flavors of the sauce.
  • Vegetable Broth: Infuses depth that enriches the overall taste.
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil: Offers richness and a silky texture to the dish.
  • Diced Yellow Onion: The sweetness and aroma of onions enhance the flavor profile of Madras Lentils.

See the recipe card for full information on ingredients and quantities.

Variations

  • Different Beans/Lentils: You can certainly experiment with different types of beans or lentils in this dish. Chickpeas, black beans, kidney beans, or even a mixture of different lentils can all work well.
  • Protein Addition: If you’re not following a vegetarian or vegan diet, you can add cooked chicken, lamb, or shrimp to the dish for added protein.
  • Vegetable Add-Ins: Feel free to add more vegetables like red bell pepper, tomatoes, zucchini, or even spinach for a nutritional boost.
  • Grain Substitutes: Instead of serving with rice or naan, try serving the Madras Lentils over quinoa, bulgur wheat, or even cauliflower rice for a low-carb alternative.
  • Spicier Variation: Adjust the red pepper flake spices based on your personal preference.
Madras lentils in a pot.

How to Make Madras Lentils

Step #1: Heat the olive oil in a 3-quart or larger pot set over medium heat. Add the onion and jalapeno; sauté until the onion begins to soften, about 5 to 7 minutes.

Onion and jalapeño in a large pot.

Step #2: Add the minced garlic, paprika, cumin, coriander, fenugreek, red pepper flakes, and ground ginger. Stir well to coat the vegetables in spices. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes, until the garlic is fragrant.

Minced garlic, paprika, cumin, coriander, fenugreek, red pepper flakes, and ground ginger added to the pot.

Step #3: Add the soaked adzuki beans along with the vegetable broth and tomato sauce. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low and cook uncovered for 45 minutes.

Vegetable broth and tomato mixture.

Step #4: Add the mung beans to the pot and allow them to cook for another 45 minutes.

Step #5: Stir in the half-and-half, tomato paste, vinegar, sugar, salt, and pepper. Taste and add more salt and pepper as needed.

Madras Lentils being stirred with a wooden spoon in a pot.

Step #6: Optionally garnish with cilantro. Serve this hearty soup with rice and/or Naan flatbreads.

Madras lentils in a bowl, garnished with cilantro.

Expert Tips

  • Balanced Spices: The essence of this recipe is in the balanced use of spices. While you can adjust the spice levels according to your preference, try not to omit any of them as each brings a unique flavor to the dish.
  • Freshness Matters: Using fresh ingredients, especially when it comes to spices and herbs, can make a big difference in the taste of your Madras Lentils. Consider grinding your own spices if possible, or ensure that your pre-ground spices are not too old.
  • Slow Cooking: The flavors in this dish benefit from slow cooking, allowing all the ingredients to meld together. Don’t rush the cooking process.
  • Adjust Consistency: You can adjust the consistency of the dish as per your preference. If you like a thicker consistency, mash some of the cooked beans with a spoon or a potato masher before adding the mung beans.
  • Garnishing: Adding fresh cilantro before serving can add a fresh burst of flavor. If you’re not a fan of cilantro, you can use parsley or even mint.
Two servings of Madras lentils garnished with cilantro.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is the recipe called Madras Lentils without any lentils?

I found that using a mix of adzuki and mung beans gave the best texture and taste for this recipe, which mirrors my favorite Tasty Bite Madras Lentils.

Why do we need to soak the adzuki beans overnight?

Soaking the adzuki beans overnight helps to reduce the cooking time.

What can I use instead of red wine vinegar?

You can substitute red wine vinegar with apple cider vinegar or lemon juice.

Can I make this recipe in a slow cooker?

Yes, you can make this in a slow cooker. However, the sautéing steps should be done on the stovetop before transferring everything to the slow cooker.

Why do I add the mung beans halfway through the cooking process?

Mung beans cook faster than adzuki beans, so they’re added later to prevent them from becoming too mushy.

Two bowls of Madras lentils; one bowl is served with rice.

Storage Info

To store Madras Lentils, allow them to cool to room temperature, then transfer them into airtight containers. When stored properly in the refrigerator, Madras Lentils can stay good for up to 3-4 days. For longer storage, you can freeze them in airtight freezer-safe containers or resealable bags for about 2-3 months. To reheat, simply thaw frozen Madras Lentils in the refrigerator overnight and then gently heat them on the stove over medium-low heat. Add a splash of water to prevent sticking. Occasionally stir until they heat through, maintaining their flavors and consistency.

Did you try this recipe? Leave a ⭐️ rating below and share it on Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest!

Madras lentils served in a bowl.

Madras Lentils Recipe

This Madras Lentils recipe is so good you will want to whip up a big pot and stock your freezer with a week's worth of lunches!
4.5 from 378 votes
Pin Rate
Course: Main Dish
Cuisine: Indian
Diet: Gluten Free, Vegan, Vegetarian
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 50 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours
Servings: 9 Servings
Calories: 230kcal
Author: Linda
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Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup diced yellow onion
  • 1 jalapeno - seeded, stemmed, and diced
  • 3 cloves garlic - minced
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon fenugreek
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 3/4 cup dry adzuki beans - soaked overnight
  • 1 quart vegetable broth
  • 1 8-ounce can tomato sauce
  • 1 1/3 cup mung beans
  • 1/2 cup half-and-half*
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Optional garnish with cilantro
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Instructions

  • Heat the olive oil in a 3-quart or larger pot set over medium heat. Add the onion and jalapeno; sauté until the onion begins to soften, about 5 to 7 minutes.
  • Add the minced garlic, paprika, cumin, coriander, fenugreek, red pepper flakes, and ground ginger. Stir well to coat the vegetables in spices. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes, until the garlic is fragrant.
  • Add the soaked adzuki beans along with the vegetable broth and tomato sauce. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low and cook uncovered for 45 minutes.
  • Add the mung beans to the pot and allow them to cook for another 45 minutes.
  • Stir in the half-and-half, tomato paste, vinegar, sugar, salt, and pepper. Taste and add more salt and pepper as needed.
  • Optionally garnish with cilantro. Serve this hearty soup with rice and/or Naan flatbreads.

VIDEO

NOTES

*Substitute coconut milk for vegan.
Storage Info:
To store Madras Lentils, allow them to cool to room temperature, then transfer them into airtight containers. When stored properly in the refrigerator, Madras Lentils can stay good for up to 3-4 days. For longer storage, you can freeze them in airtight freezer-safe containers or resealable bags for about 2-3 months. To reheat, simply thaw frozen Madras Lentils in the refrigerator overnight and then gently heat them on the stove over medium-low heat. Add a splash of water to prevent sticking. Occasionally stir until they heat through, maintaining their flavors and consistency.

Nutrition

Serving: 1Serving | Calories: 230kcal | Carbohydrates: 35g | Protein: 12g | Fat: 5g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 5mg | Sodium: 317mg | Potassium: 708mg | Fiber: 8g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 240IU | Vitamin C: 8mg | Calcium: 79mg | Iron: 3mg

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About the Author

Linda

Hi, I'm Linda! Welcome to The Wanderlust Kitchen, where I share recipes and travel adventures from all around the world. Here you'll find a world of recipes you can have confidence in. These recipes celebrate authentic food heritage as well as modern techniques and ingredients. Be adventurous and try a new recipe and travel somewhere you have never been before.  Bon Appétit! Bon Voyage!  

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Comments:

  1. Hi, you put an asterisk next to half and half, but I could not find the asterisk in your notes. i was looking for a substitute that was not coconut. Thanks.

    1. Hi Laura, I did put the comment back, which as you guessed it was: *Substitute coconut milk for vegan.
      If you are looking for something that isn’t coconut, try almond or soy milk.

  2. Two problems I’m having…when you say 3/4 red beans, does that mean 3/4 of dry beans that you must soak or do you mean 3/4 of soaked red beans…also, after puting in the mung beans the liquid dried up quickly and the mung beans were still hard…how are they supposed to cook with no liquid…I added an additional cup of broth

    1. Hi Clayton, the 3/4 cup of dry adzuki beans are soaked overnight and then added in step 3. Adding more broth or water should help those mung beans soften up.

  3. 4 stars
    I thought this had a really wonderful blend of flavors. I too had a bit of trouble getting the mung beans to soften in the allotted 45 minutes, but ran out of time, so they were a bit “al dente.” I also had to add around 2 cups of water to the pot when I added the mung beans because the liquid had cooked down so much. I will soak the mung beans next time and hopefully that will shorten the cooking time. I could not find fenugreek at any of my grocery stores, so didn’t add any. I will order some online and try again. Thanks for this yummy meal. I will definitely be making this again.

    1. Fenugreek can be found at Sprouts in the bulk spice area. It is not ground. I found ground at King Soopers, but it was very expensive.

    1. Madras Lentils… without any lentils?

      Yep. I tried making this with regular brown lentils, red lentils, and French lentils but it just wasn’t the same.

      Trust me on this one and just go with it.